in between holidays

it's 10:30pm saturday night and i'm putting off going to bed because i know it's 'back to work' tomorrow (and yet i'm excited about tomorrow too at the same time). anyways, here's some random thoughts bouncing around my head right now:
- i felt like i ate lots of food for thanksgiving; there was tons on the table and reminds me how excessive we americans can be (not that it's necessarily bad...just a LOT of food). it was delicious too, by the way.
- had a great time connecting with my parents and brother for an extended period of time. we celebrated christmas this week with them because we'll be in pittsburgh with shanna's family at christmas time. had tons of fun playing games, chatting, and just relaxing together. we're so blessed with the families that we have...
- enjoyed hanging out with todd & christa and the kids for another extended period of time. they are so encouraging and fun to be around - every time it's so refreshing...
- embarked on a new experience this afternoon - shanna and i went hunting for a tree to cut down with some friends. usually we just pick one that's already been cut, but this year we were told that for a super cheap price we could cut any tree and any size. operating on a tight budget, we jumped at the opportunity, and spent WAY too much time looking for the perfect tree. (two perfectionists looking for a perfect tree = a somewhat frustrating experience for everyone involved). we were looking for a very large tree (our obsession with big) because we have been blessed with cathredal ceilings in our apartment this year and for some crazy reason felt the need to fill the space. getting home and looking at the tree...i think it's quite possibly the smallest one we've ever gotten - lol. it's funny how God works things like that out to teach us lessons. amidst feelings of frustration, i was reminded of the series we'll be starting this thursday in youth group, "gimme more presence" - it's not about the hype of christmas, the flashy presents, and the unimportant stuff that so often clouds out the imperative. it's about being more like the kid in the smelly crib...thinking and acting more like Jesus. it's not about getting the biggest tree and paying for some stupidly high electric bill. again, not that big is bad...i'm just maybe beginning to notice how i live in excess so much of the time when so many live in need... maybe a 'smaller' tree isn't such a bad thing after all...
- i've been battling a cold for the last few days and have gone through almost an entire box of tissues. as i typed this i just sneezed on the screen actually (i bet you wish you could've seen it). hunting for the perfect tree this afternoon in the great outdoors made me want to hack off my nose with the tree saw.
- driving home from the tree farm, our friends' tree fell off the roof of their van and almost caused a wreck for the car behind us. looking back, a VERY funny experience that wasn't so funny at the time.


turkey bowl and christmas shopping

Go Old Guys! Our annual Turkey Bowl was this past Sunday and Cor sure is feeling sore the last few days. He obviously played on the Old Guys' team and helped uphold their 3 year winning streak. I made buckeye bars for the Dessert Bake-off that followed. Yum!

After that we had Community Groups. I'm feeling like we're fitting into a good grove and I'm starting to enjoy our group.

Yesterday I hung out at home, cleaned out apartment (much needed! yikes.). Then after school, I took one of my girls out Christmas Shopping. I'm so excited - I found a lot of my list and didn't have to shop solo. Cor and I are going to go out and get a few more things, but we're all set for our Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration with Cor's family.

I'm watching TV while I write this and they are discussing Michelle Obama and what role she'll play in the White House. I'm really excited to see what she'll do. I admire Laura Bush greatly and yet, I'm anticipating Michelle Obama as she forges her own role. As a pastor's wife I am watched and criticized or lauded... My tiny little "fishbowl" is more than enough for me. What a stressful and vunerable position the First Lady must fill... I've always been in awe of the President's wife.


MckMama's Blog

I've been following this awesome blog for awhile now. I previously had a "praying for MckMama & baby Stellan" button. Now I have a MckMiracle Button. To find out why (and only if you have a large amount of time... because once you start reading, you won't be able to STOP reading!) check it out. Right now MckMama is hosting a Small Fryday Contest... (hence this post). God's work in this family's life has really challenged me a lot.


mini retreat

i had the wonderful opportunity to attend a 2 day retreat with other youth pastors in our district from ny, pa, and oh earlier this week - great opportunity to meet new people who do what i do and connect in meaningful ways. HUGE encouragement to me. one of the guys, Tom, who's doing some great things for God out in the sticks, did a great recap of the weekend here. the monday night sharing time was pretty cool - and i felt like i was invited into a sacred meeting in a holy space where everyone was vulnerable and open...sharing the good and the bad. it was sweet and very refreshing...


new graphic

Our Christmas Series is: Gimme More Presence. This is the graphic I did today. I'm happy with this one, which is cool because I'm usually not happy. But, overall - I like it. :) Yay! The background is from simply youth ministry's downloadable freebies and the present is from stock.xchng I just stuck the puzzle pieces together (and extracted and applied styles and ...)

Today was my first free day at home in a long time. I was completely unproductive (other than this graphic, of course). I love being at home. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for lunch/shopping (? maybe) and then taking a teen out after school. And I've already scheduled next tuesday to go out with some of the girls. I LOVE our ministry and doing stuff with the girls. I wasn't able to do that while I was working this last job, but I didn't realize how much I had missed that until I started scheduling stuff again.


i could've done more

lakeshore showed this video clip from the ending of schindler's list last sunday in church as part of pastor vince's message. he applied it specifically to money and how we will never get to heaven and say to God "i gave too much". but i haven't been able to forget about that clip and how powerful it is as it speaks volumes to me, not just about money, but time and energy as well. i know life is all about balance, but as i sat pondering it today, i asked myself the question...even at this point in my life...'i could have done more...i could have done more'.


high strung ramblings

i feel high strung right now...like a ride i went on at darien lake earlier in the summer - we got in this metal ball and these giant springs scrunched down as tight as possible before releasing us to what felt like thousands of feet in the air. i feel like that spring just about to be released, which is good cuz i'm learning that i'm addicted to speed and like it alot (speed meaning velocity...not the drug). it's been an emotionally draining past few days filled with tough calls and hard decisions. we all have to make them, but they're never easy and it never seems that there's one 'textbook' answer for each one. formulas are nice, but i'm learning they don't always happen in life. i guess that's where the faith factor kicks into high gear as it forces us to trust the one who DOES have it all figured out, and then let the decision go into his hands. i'm trying to learn how to trust and let stuff go, and i'm also learning that sometimes i think without my presence things would fall apart. it's another disturubing realization...because it tells me in my subconcious that i have too high of a view of myself, or too dimished a view of God...or even scarier...both.

i'm also learning that there's some things in life you bet on and some things you don't. i set my fantasy football team every week, almost completely based on the projections of others who work at espn. i anticipate what people will give at church, and plan a budget accordingly. i bet on what money will come in for an event and spend the money knowing/praying it'll all come in. i'm probably a somewhat moderate risk taker, and there's a certain adrenaline and excitement that i get from taking risks. but i'm trying to learn this one loud and clear: i don't bet on people's safety when i'm called to protect them. i don't care what others say, what the projections hint at, or the guilt trips that come with it...i don't bet on other's safety.

on a different note, we had an incredible thursday last week with the teens. we were kind of "kicked out" of the youth room as some home meetings were going on in there as part of the building campaign at lcc. so, we took over the auditorium for the night and brought in some super special people. we're in the middle of our 'extreme makeover youth room edition' series as we try to get the teens to become part of the process for the new building as well as to challenge them to sacrificially give to the campaign over the next 3 years. here's pictures of our ty, paul, and paige:

chris is the head architectural designer of the building, dan is heavily involved in the construction of it, and kim is our interior design consultant. they were so much fun to work with and their enthusiasm easily spread to the students. we got the teens into 'think tanks' for about a half hour and their ideas for how to design the youth room were quite amazing...many of which are actually doable (except for the hot tub...that one might not fly).
Wow... so much has been happening we haven't even had time to blog about it! We were just talking with friends the other night about how fast time flies - once we become adults. But - think back when you were in high school - remember how it seemed as if a month could seem endless and a year was the longest time length you could fathom! Now I'm still trying to remember that its already October, when unfortunately we're actually half way through November! What! Where did all those days go???

Here's a pic of my "new" hair cut. Sorry for the bad resolution... cell phone pic. I feel so trendy. :)

I'm headed down to see my family today and I am sooo excited. Cory is headed to a short conference for all of our district's YPs. Having 2 cars is great! I love having the freedom to just jump in my car and drive to PA or do whatever... We've enjoyed this luxury for awhile and it is awesome. After church last Thursday Cory & I decided to go out to Wendy's with another couple. When we got out to the parking lot four cars awaited the four of us. Maybe this is commonplace for you guys, but for me it struck me how spoiled we are here in the US!

Cory & I were cleaning our apartment this weekend and Cor mentioned we only have 2 more weeks until Christmas decorating in the Hunneyman Home begins! I'm so stoked! I LOVE LOVE LOVE decorating for Christmas and the way my home feels all twinkling and cozy! I'll post pics after decorating begins.


The Adventure of Today

My nannying job has forced Cory & I to make a lot of adjustments... most of which I hate... i.e. very little time, a messy house, going to bed & waking up at different times, schedules, ministry involvment, etc. But, I'm thankful for the job and for my paycheck... I'm thankful that God is challenging me - not daily, but minute-by-minute.... I'm thankful for the opportunity to share the love of Jesus...

Today Tina & I and the girls went on an adventure! We went to Target to go clothes & shoe shopping for the girls. Then, we drove the Wendy's drive-through and took our food to the park for a picnic. Then, went home and walked to the little church playground down the road. We were all pooped by the time we got back home.

I learned... to remember our handicapped parking permit, how to fold and unfold a wheel-chair, to not talk with my mouth full, to hold a little girl so she doesn't pee on her pants when peeing outside, to efficiently use the carseat anchors in our car, ...

When I finally got home today, I took a little while to myself and then got ready to leave for ISM tonight. When I got to the car, I opened the door to throw my bag in the backseat. Two carseats with two little smiling dollies greeted me. Closing the door and throwing my bag in the passenger seat instead, I choked back tears and avoided any eye contact with my backseat... Sigh. Infertility catches me unaware and unprepared sometimes. During those moments, emotional pain rips through my heart and leaves me breathless. I know God has a purpose for our infertility and He has a purpose in this job.

Honestly, I know a lot of truths, but I hate the practical outworkings of those truths... the daily grind that wears away at my heart and passion... Ironically, I also know that He's standing there with open arms just waiting for me to run back to Him. But, doing that means I have to trust Him... I have to open my hands and surrender... again.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matt 16:24-26


shanna and i along with some of our other leaders from ISM spent the weekend in pittsburgh at the national youth workers convention...and it was great. so refreshing...so much fun...incredible sessions and concerts...and truly wonderful to connect with others and just be real. but it all messed me up.

it challenged my thinking, drove me to ask radical questions that i'm not sure i'm comfortable asking, and i'm sure has begun moving me into new territory in how i think about and do ministry.

there was one session in particular that really messed with my mind, and it was led by francis chan, author of crazy love. he was talking about how radical jesus' ministry on earth was, how we in youth ministry especially are infatuated with big crowds and big numbers...but that's not what jesus was about. in fact he pointed out passsage after passage where jesus is found deliberately speaking to them in confusing ways. many times we think that when he spoke in parables...that it was like us speaking in illustrations, with the intent to make the point clearer. but matthew 13 is a good example of a story he told that made absolutely no sense on its own...the disciples pick up on that and ask jesus why he's confusing them...he explains to them why...and then proceeds to give his disciples the deeper meaning of it all.

when i get up to speak, to be honest i'm not sure it ever really happens...but my goal is to cause each person in the audience to understand whatever it is we're trying to explain. but jesus seems to say things in such a way that the few who really want to understand have to come after him and chase him down to get the answers. i didn't walk away thinking that that's necessarily how we need to communicate to people (but it does give encouragement on "bad" nights)...but i guess what's disturbing to me, even more than any of this...is that i've asked that question about the parables for years as i've read through the gospels...and never chased down an answer.

i believe the bible...as 100% absolute truth...but i'm finding that sometimes my belief and trust in the bible gets in the way of my understanding and defending of it. i'm so prone to read something pretty funky in the bible...believe confidently that there's a reason for it and it all checks out...and letting it go there without doing the work and research of finding out HOW. and it's disturbing to me.

so, i've embarked on a new journey of scripture reading, and i'm committing to asking critical questions...questions that i've been too scared or too lazy to ask before...and i can't wait to see where it'll take us.